Hives are red, elevated, itchy sites on the skin that can result from an allergic reaction.
The clusters might manifest as a response to an allergen such as medication, food or insect bites or stings. The hives might arise as a reaction to an infection or emotional stress. During a bodily response to an irritant, histamine is released that triggers the formation of the rashes.
What are the signs?
The reddened, elevated, itchy areas might vary in shape and size. The individual might have one or several hives on any part of the body but usually on the legs, arms and trunk.
The rash might last for a few minutes or even several days. It can be quite uncomfortable and tends to recur.
Management of hives
The treatment is based on its seriousness. The doctor might suggest one or several of the following to lessen the itchiness and swelling:
- Soaking in a lukewarm bath or apply a cold compress
- Avoid rubbing or applying heat which releases more histamine
- Provide an antihistamine medication as instructed to diminish the allergic response of the body
In case the rash is severe or does not respond to the commonly-used treatment options, an oral steroid might be prescribed for a few days.
The itchiness, swelling and redness can last for hours to several weeks or even months. Generally, it settles without treatment but using drugs such as antihistamines or steroids can speed up the reduction of the symptoms. The drug also lessens the itchiness and prevents new hives from forming.
For chronic cases, they last for a longer time and the root cause is hard to identify. The rashes might settle on their own after weeks or months but might recur repeatedly.